There are dozens of different variables involved when manufacturing precision rollers for the printing and packaging industry. This is due to the diversity of materials used in packaging, from coiled steel to aluminium foil, and the temperatures and rotational speeds needed to process adhesives.
Without careful planning and attention at the design stage there is a lot that can go wrong. Even slight variances outside the optimum temperature range, for example, can cause problems with your adhesive binding to the packaging material. Slightly increased vibrations or a reduced line speed can alter your flow rate, causing clogging in the roller and spoilage in your materials.
These are the two most common mistakes that lead to these errors:
1) Incomplete Drawings
When manufacturing industrial rollers, it is critical that your manufacturer has complete, accurate technical drawings to work from. This is more difficult than it sounds, with problems occurring because of how manufacturers and print businesses traditionally work with technical drawings.
For decades, print and packaging roller technology was fairly static. This means that technical drawings were used over and again for decades, from supplier to supplier. Invariably, changes were made to the specifications over time but this was often ‘retained knowledge’ held by individual engineers. The drawings themselves weren’t often updated. This is fine, so long as the personnel and company ownership remain the same.
It becomes an issue when staff move on or retire, or when a company changes hands. As the retained knowledge is not added to the technical drawings, the next time they come to be used, inaccuracies are detected.
For a supplier inheriting technical drawings in this way, the learning curve is steep. The customer quite rightly expects parts to be produced as they always have been and is frustrated when discrepancies occur in the end product.
To avoid incomplete drawings, we place great emphasis on the consulting and design phase. When working with a customer’s existing drawings, we have found it avoids problems down the line to take a ‘belt and braces’ approach to technical specifications. We assume there will be some inherited inaccuracies and go through a thorough process to detect and address them.
This involves discussing your actual requirements and working backwards from there. This enables us to amend the drawings, specifications, surface finishes, interference fits etc. to ensure your drawings are accurate going forward. This means the design and on-boarding phase takes a bit longer, but in our experience it saves a lot of time during manufacturing and inspection. It also avoids the risk of performance issues when your rollers are installed in your application.
2) Prioritising Low Prices Over Quality
Packaging and print rollers are high-stakes equipment; meaning that when something goes wrong, the impact is likely to be far-reaching. Unfortunately, businesses are also under intense pressure to keep their manufacturing costs as low as possible. With a limited budget, it can be tempting to go for the lower priced of two quotes, without paying full attention to long-term life-cycle costs. With industrial rollers, lower quality components cost more than higher quality alternatives.
You may pay less upfront, but a low quality component is far more likely to develop performance issues, requiring more frequent replacement and maintenance. You may also experience increased spoilage and downtime as a result of equipment errors.
Why should you be wary of lower-priced components? The short answer is that manufacturers have to make the savings somewhere. They can either save money on materials by using lower grade alternatives, or they can try and save time and money on the manufacturing process itself.
Most low-priced manufacturers go for the second option, saving money by skimping on the balancing and inspection phase. This is a recipe for problems, as an imbalanced roller may not perform well under stress, losing rotational speed or developing excessive heat due to vibration.
The solution isn’t always to choose the highest priced unit, but when looking for quotes, pay attention to the process your supplier uses. Seek out transparent suppliers who explain exactly what is involved and what everything costs. This puts you in a position to understand a supplier’s prices, letting you assess the option that gives you true value for money.
Industrial rollers work hard under challenging conditions. There are any number of things that could go wrong during their working life. Therefore, it is almost always more cost-effective to pay for the best quality and best design, with a thorough inspection process, rather than take the risk of something going wrong with a lower quality component.
Avoid Costly Mistakes When Buying Industrial Rollers
The subject of industrial rollers is covered in depth in our new Industrial Rollers Guide, which is available for free download by clicking here. Access your copy to find out how to select the right rollers for your project, how to get the best value and what mistakes to avoid.